On the night of December 28th, a large shadow moved across the patio. I looked out and saw nothing, but the cats were on alert. Then it happened again. This time its glowing eyes flashed before it disappeared into blackness. The wind or the beast howled beyond the pane. I wasn’t sure what it was, but it was big. I slid the glass door open, unlocked the iron gate and stepped out. The form moved into the yard. I called out to the creature as it circled. It moved toward me than withdrew, so I sat in a chair and watched it until it approached, cautiously, emitting an unmistakable, guttural growl.
As it drew near I smelled the sickly sweet odor of rotting flesh, and then the brute rested its head on my thigh, his growling reduced to an indiscernible whimper. He was magnificent and wounded. We sat in the cold and dark awhile as I stroked his head and spoke calmly to him. When enough time passed, I brought him inside.
Feast of the Innocents
December 28th is the 4th day of Christmas, the Feast of the Innocents, named for the Massacre of the Innocents by Herod the Great who ordered the execution of all young male offspring around Bethlehem to protect his throne from the newborn King of the Jews. And coincidentally, the Cŵn Annwn, the hellhound of Welsh folklore is also known to roam during the 12 days of Christmas.
The thing about hellhounds, they are often heard but not seen. Their howl diminishes on approach. They can appear as shadows with glowing eyes, and if close enough, accompanied by the stench of death. They lead souls to the underworld and are portents of death. If you hear one, death is nearby. If you see one, well…
When I learned this a few days after he’d begun to heal, I laughed aloud and said to him, “It sounds like you may be a hellhound – are you a hellhound?
He stood, raised his head toward me and throated out a long howl, shook, and then curled back up on the comforter I’d put out for him.
Naming the Beast
They needed a name at the vet’s office, so I said “Dorgly.” First thing that popped into my mind – a wolf-hybrid I’d walked as a kid for a neighbor a few blocks from my elementary school. But it just wasn’t fancy enough, so I added “von Hundenburg,” which translates to “doggy castle.” And I gave him a new first name, “Cŵn,” keeping with the legends. But Coon Dorgly von Hundenburg was too long, so I asked for help from the interwebs. Thanks to everyone who chimed in with these great names:
Sammy or Sam (short for sammich)
Modern Major General
Mobius Darwin Tomahawker
Bao (Chinese, meaning ‘gem’)
Cong (intelligent) because he looks part shar-pei
Edmund Fitzgerald (he was such a wreck…)
17 because it will mark the year he came to you
Andy Rooney just cause he was a cool dude
I liked Harumphrey von Hundenburg a lot, but he had a habit of snorfling, and soon “Snorfles” caught on.
Snorf for short. 🙂